Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

Research Forum 1994

Grace Vaughan House
Saturday 27th August 1994
Program and Paper abstracts
This page is WAIER's official archival copy of the text of a printed document issued by WAIER in 1994.


Program

12.30- 1.00p.m.Registration
1.00-3.00p.m.Concurrent Paper Sessions 1, 2, 3 & 4
3.00-3.30p.m.Afternoon Tea
3.30-5.30p.m.Concurrent Paper Sessions 5, 6, 7 and 8
5.30-6.30p.m.Happy Hour
6.30-7.30p.m.Forum Address and Presentation of Awards
Welcome: Andrew Taggart, President, WAIER
Invited Address:
Diedra Young, WAIER 1993 Early Career Award Winner
WAIER Prizewinners:
Institution Post Graduate Research Awards

Early Career Award 1994
7.30p.m.Forum Dinner


WAIER 1993 Early Career Award Winner

Diedra Young - Curtin University of Technology

Dr Deidra Young is a Research Fellow at the Science and Mathematics Education Centre Curtin University. Deidra's research has focused on the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) studies of international educational systems. Deidra now holds an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for the investigation of socioeducational influences and school effectiveness related to student science achievement and attitudes towards science. She is the author or coauthor of over 20 publications in national and international journals and conference proceedings.

About the Award

The aim of the WAIER Early Career Award is to recognise excellence early in a career and to encourage continuing contributions to research. The award is an incentive as well as an acknowledgement of early success, and it is hoped that the person receiving the award would proceed to complete further research of excellent quality.

The award is open to all presently enrolled postgraduate students, and anybody who has yet to complete three years following a Master's or Doctoral degree, and/or who would not be considered an established researcher.

A select committee of the executive of WAIER reviews nominations and selects a short list. The short list of nominees is then invited to submit evidence of their educational research.


Paper abstracts

Speaking in "models and modules" in curriculum work

Ken Alexander
ECU
Time 1 4.00-4.30 Room 1

In this presentation, I am particularly interested in exchanging views with those with an interest in language, especially as it's used in a micropolitical sense within schools. Curriculum change and "strategic rhetoric" are key concepts framing the presentation. The purpose of my paper is to make a case for talking about curriculum work in terms of models and modules. It uses examples drawn from the Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre's (SPARC) state and national projects to assist the process of seeing how models and modules are important in professional communication. We typically refer to the "characteristics" of curriculum models. These characteristics, when considered together, constitute a set of plans for structurally designing and building a pattern of professional practices. These practices in turn, embody a particular set of values, beliefs and commitments to educational outcomes. Thus, a curriculum model encapsulates a set of interrelated factors or variables which together comprise elements symbolising a social system. Curriculum models serve, by definition, as a description or analogy which may be used to assist us to visualise something that cannot be directly observed in the one place or at the one time. A key assumption of my argument for a better understanding of the use of the term "model" in curriculum work is that models provide a professional community with a much needed facility in the communication of ideas about what is (and, if they wish, should be) going on.

Gifted children's culture: A case study

Margherita Almond
Curtin
Time 1 4.30-5.001 Room 1

Since 1958 when comprehensive schools were established in Western Australia the Education Department has been interested in programs for the academically gifted. 'Me aim of most teachers of academically gifted students, presumably, is to provide an invigorating and challenging learning environment. However, a large volume of research contends that gifted students can underachieve and demonstrate deviant behaviour. It is the purpose of this case study to examine a year 10 gifted class and endeavour to describe the culture of this selective group. The study will involve: 1) An examination of the preferred learning styles of the gifted children; 2) Typical behaviours displayed by achieving and underachieving gifted children; 3). Possible reasons for underachievement of gifted children.

An Internet listserver for WAIER

Roger Atkinson and Clare McBeath
Murdoch and Curtin
Time 1 1.00-1.301 Room 2

A listserver provides an email discussion environment, whereby a group of people with similar interests can "subscribe" and exchange ideas with others, without having to deal with the complexities of despatching individually to a large list of correspondents. Any subscriber can key in an email message which the listserver despatches automatically, and very quickly, to everybody else on the list. Others might want to answer, or add further thoughts of their own, and within minutes the answers can be read by everybody on the list, and vigorous electronic discussion can occur.

Although listservers are used widely in the USA, only a small number of Australian listservers have been established. This presentation will be illustrated by several lists on the Internet/AARNet host cleo.murdoch.edu.au, which runs the list server software "Majordomo" for Unix. The lists hosted by cleo include a trial list "WAIER-L" set up for demonstration at WAIER's 1994 Forum. The presentation will be made with a modem and communications software, to show a low cost, user friendly method for access by schools. An advantage is that email list subscriptions can be made available to WAIER members in schools. Any person with an Internet email address can subscribe to a list such as WAIER-L, typically without charge. Organisations not having their own Internet/AARNet connection will incur costs for obtaining email addresses. Some universities provide some free accounts to school teachers to help overcome this problem. We offer to continue indefinitely the trial list WAIER-L as demonstrated at this Forum. It will provide a free service to assist educational research and professional development in WA schools, TAFE colleges and universities. We shall invite WAIER to co-sponsor this list along with a number of educational institutions.

Post-compulsory students' goals and perceptions of school

Susan Beltman
Murdoch
Time 1 4.30-5.001 Room 3

The motivation - or apparent lack of it - in students is a continuing concern of secondary school staff. With increasing retention rates in the post-compulsory years, a relatively small population of motivated, academically oriented students has been replaced with a heterogeneous mixture similar to that of lower school.

Research has consistently found three distinct personal motivational orientations towards school: task, ego and avoidance. Students with a task orientation have been found to attribute success to their own efforts, to believe that schools should foster learning and individual mastery, to use more effective learning strategies, to persist when faced with difficulties, and to be more satisfied with school than those with other orientations. Parallel work in the area of sport has produced findings consistent with these.

Social goals are also important in schools. Prosocial goals and the goals of social responsibility have been distinguished, with students needing to maintain a balance between them. To succeed in school, students need to coordinate multiple academic and social goals.

Research on enhancing motivation has centred on developing strategies to encourage a task orientation. How students interpret such strategies is important and some work has been done on whether or not students do in fact perceive such strategies to be motivating. The present study investigates the motivational orientations of post-compulsory students. All Year 11 students in a Perth metropolitan senior high school completed a questionnaire to determine their degree of task, ego, work avoidance, prosocial and social responsibility orientations. A second questionnaire was also given which included strategies which schools could implement to 'motivate' students. Each strategy was linked to one of these five orientations. Students were asked whether they thought these strategies would be motivating for them. They were also asked about their satisfaction with school, their perceived ability and their intentions of continuing with further study. Preliminary results only are available at this stage. The reliability of the orientation and strategy scales was calculated and factor analyses were conducted. Whether different motivational orientations were associated with different levels of enjoyment, of perceived ability and with future plans was also considered as were relationships between orientation and strategy choice. Students differed with respect to their gender, Year 10 achievement level and current course of study and the relationships of these differences with motivational orientations and chosen strategies were also examined.

The development of telematics in a rural district in Western Australia

Julie Bowden
Education Dept of WA
Time 1 1.30-2.00 Room 2

The Telematics program in WA was introduced in 1991, and was designed to cater for a range of learning styles, maximisation of choice, and the provision of successful curriculum experiences for isolated students. Through the auspices of this program, the use of appropriate technology to widen access to the curriculum has facilitated cross-sector collaboration in the effective application of teaching and learning in a distance education environment. The objective of this research was to investigate the use of Telematics technology in the delivery of learning programs from one small rural district high school. A case study approach was selected as the data would reflect individual experiences both at the delivery and the receiving schools. To establish a base form which to make judgments and assertions, a series of six key factors were elicited. These presented a number of aspects that contributed to a comprehensive picture regarding the development, implementation and ongoing maintenance of the Telematics program. The study concluded that the sharing of such resources within a small cluster of schools, has enabled them to increase their flexibility in terms of curriculum choices, exploration and familiarisation of the computer based technology, encouragement and motivation for the staff to develop innovative practices, cooperation between the various schools in the network, retention of students in post-compulsory education and opportunities for girls to develop technological competencies.

First year overseas and local university students' management of their learning

Denise Chalmers
ECU
Time 2.30-3.00 Room 3

This paper reports a study which traces the changes in local and overseas students' learning intentions, learning strategies and perceptions in a first year university economics course in Australia. The study sought to describe changes in students' learning intentions, learning strategies, perceptions and attempted grades in the context of one unit over 1 semester and to identify if overseas students differed from local students for these variables. Three questionnaires were administered over one semester. Students' learning intentions, strategies and perceptions changed during the course of the semester and differences between local and overseas students were identified. This paper supports the view that it is not appropriate to view university students as holding stable learning intentions and perceptions, and questions whether overseas students should be characterised as different from local students.

The problem solving abilities of children with intellectual disabilities

Peter Cole and Sonya Barrett
ECU
Time 4.00-4.30 Room 1

What is the cause of retarded children poor performance on problem solving tasks? Thirty 10-year old children with intellectual disabilities were compared with 30 children of the same chronological age and 30 younger children of the same mental age (tested with the Coloured Progressive Matrices) on an adaptation of a standard problem solving task. The problem required the subjects to ask questions of the experimenter. The three groups were compared on type of questions asked, the range of question types and the time taken to complete the task. As predicted, the same-age regular class students were superior on all aspects of problem solving. The MA-matched regular class group were also superior to the retarded children on most aspects of this particular task. The differences between the groups was most apparent in the time taken to complete the tasks. Explanations for the pattern of problem-solving behaviour will be reported.

An ethnographic study of the teaching of controversial issues within health education in two WA primary schools

Lorel Cullen
Curtin Time 2.00-2.30 Room 4

The aim of this study was to capture two primary school teachers teaching some of the controversial issues contained within the Health Education K-10 Syllabus (WA). A descriptive case study approach was utilised to observe and interview teachers teaching health education in Years 5 & 7. Health education is a subject taught in Western Australian schools from Kindergarten to Year 10 (K-10). The diversity of content area includes: human sexuality; coping with change, loss and grief; consumer health, physical changes and growth; drug education; safety education; communication, sexual assault and abuse, stress management; decision making; and goal setting. Many teachers are generally unprepared and uncomfortable about teaching the more controversial areas of the Health Education K- 10 Syllabus so this study hopes to provide descriptive vignettes of the real classroom experience so that other teachers may be encouraged to rethink and/or prioritise the teaching of health education. A collaborative approach was used when working with the teachers. This approach made shared use of the teachers' knowledge about their students and my expertise in health education. We shared our experiences and pooled our ideas. To further promote the teaching of health education, policy suggestions are offered for both the Education Department of WA and teacher training institutions. The teaching of health education in its entirety is a challenging task but one that holds rewards for effective teachers and their students.

First year students and writing: Is there a message for tertiary teachers?

Barbara de la Harpe and Joanne Samson
Curtin
Time 3.30-4.00 Room 4

What do students think good writing is about and to what extent do their perceptions of their own writing change when exposed to a writing support program? Answers to these questions were sought from all first year Teacher Education students enrolled in Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary education programs. On the first day of Semester 1, 1994 students were asked to respond to two questions. These were What is good writing? and 'How would you rate your writing skills/' The Good Writing questions was open-ended and the rating question required students to respond on a scale of one-to-five. Spread throughout Semester 1, as part of regular classroom workshops in Educational Psychology, students received eight hours of writing support to help them complete two major assignment projects set for the Unit. This support was provided by the Faculty as extra teaching time in order to raise student awareness of the importance of literacy skills and to show them 'how' to write a university assignment. To investigate whether student views about their own writing changed following the in-context support we again asked the question "How would you rate your writing skills?" at the beginning of Semester 2. We also asked students whether they believed there had been any change in their writing skills over the semester and to give reasons for any perceived change.

On the numerical scale, we generally found that students did not rate their writing skills higher than they had in Semester 1. However, the written component of die question where students gave reasons for perceived change suggests that students believed their writing had improved in some way. Student views of 'good writing' indicated that many students know that audience, content and clarity of expression are important, but many others view good writing as competence in the functional skills of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

On the basis of an analysis of student responses and our own reflection, we concluded that tertiary teachers do indeed have a major role to play in assisting student writing. Showing students 'how to' undertake their assignments was beneficial both for student and teacher. The developmental nature of writing was reinforced for us in student responses. We experienced the frustration of teachers who have students with declarative knowledge about writing but who do not present the results of that knowledge in the procedures they use. Apparent also was the teacher's need to encourage students' confidence about their writing as boundaries of writing competence are extended by the continuous challenge to write well.

Current concerns confronting principals: A Western Australian study

Graham Dellar
Curtin
Time 2.30-3.00 Room 5

Educators are faced with a large number of expectations held by the community and the system within which they work. With restructuring and reform endeavours presently confronting the education system, coupled with concurrent curriculum changes, principals are required to assume new and expanded roles. Bath (1988) suggested that effective principals must possess a clear vision for education, involve teachers in decision making, and share responsibility for failure. Clamp (1989) expanded this list of principal responsibilities by including business management, curriculum development, change facilitation, the fostering of collegiality and public relations. With such pressures for fundamental changes in the knowledge and skill requirements of principals it is little wonder that many experience difficulty in coping with, and accommodating to, these expanded expectations. The purpose of this paper is to report on the initial findings of an ongoing research study on current principal concerns in light of contemporary role expectations. 170 principals responded anonymously to an open questionnaire that was used to identify current and future concerns. Respondents were also asked to identify the issues with which they preferred to deal as school principal.

An ethnographic study of nurses in a forensic psychiatric setting: Education and training implications

Ray Dhondea
Graylands Hospital/Curtin
Time 2.30-3.00 Room 1

This study was an attempt to make sense of what nurses did in a forensic psychiatric setting, and to specifically draw from it some cognisance of their learning needs. The study involved a qualitative approach and the procedures utilised were essentially ethnographic. The major modes of data collection were through participant observation and interviews. Information obtained from observations was juxtaposed with that derived from interview procedures and vice versa.

Data analysis revealed four main themes: (a) nurses views of their professional identities, (b) organisational practices, (c) patterns of interaction, (d) nurses concerns and dissatisfaction. Conditions such as the nature of the patients, the attitudes towards the institution, the nurses' backgrounds, and the job itself determined how nurses perceived themselves in the work setting. The findings also revealed that dissatisfaction existed amongst nursing staff in the setting. It manifested itself in the ward atmosphere, and was expressed through staff comments and complaints. Staff voiced dissatisfaction principally with nursing management. Nurses' perceptions of management was that they (management) were impersonal, unsupportive, and uncaring towards the plight of the ward staff. Burnout, individual and collective disturbances were perceived by nurses as everyday working realities. Collective disturbance was seen primarily as an institutional phenomenon characterised by various upsets, disorganisation and tension.

In the face of these perceived exigencies, nurses created meanings by conceptualising specific roles, such as medication nurse, security nurse and comfort nurse to account for their every working realities. The job itself was carried out in a task-oriented fashion and nursing practice focused on the performance of routines. What counted most in the nurses' culture was the imperative to bring about the control of patients' behaviour and the reporting of behavioural manifestations to the doctors. However, nurses regarded doctors with ambivalence, their conversations with doctors were replete with indirect requests and preferences which recognised and reinforced their subordination.

Nurses appeared to struggle over apportioning time between therapeutic activities and management duties and the inclination was more towards the latter. Decreased nurse/patient interaction also occurred as a consequence of what nurses referred to as 'burnout'. Nurses retreated into the office in order to get away from patients' constant demands. For the nurses, participation in committee work, office work, and conversing in small groups amongst themselves offered ways to get away from patients. The study concludes by outlining some implications for the nurses' professional education.

Masculinity from a feminist perspective: Or how feminism helped construct the new man

Muffay Drummond
ECU
Time 1.30-2.00 Room 3

The aim of the present research study was to determine whether specific instruction in aspects of grammar would result in improved levels of reading performance in children who were early readers. Although a number of previous research studies have examined the links between grammatical understanding and reading performance, few training studies exist. Three classes of Year 1 and Year 2 children, divided into experimental and control groups at each year level, were examined in this study. The experimental groups received an intensive 10 - week training program in aspects of grammatical knowledge appropriate to their age level. The 2 control groups received normal classroom instruction in aspects of general language development. All 4 groups were pre-tested and post-tested in grammatical understanding, word recognition and reading comprehension.

Statistical analyses at post-test revealed that there were no differences between the experimental and control groups in levels of syntactic understanding and reading performance after training. However, when pre-test and post-test scores were compared, it was found that all children, in all groups, had improved significantly in levels of grammatical understanding and reading performance during the ten week period.

I suggest that the reason for this may be that current W.A. Language curricula which favour a Whole Language approach to literacy learning, may encourage the use of reading strategies which, incidentally, foster grammatical development. Examples of children's work from the training program will be displayed during the presentation.

An analysis of the deliberative process involved in the curriculum design of an adventure education package

Terri Edwards
ECU
Time 1.00-1.30 Room 4

Whilst designing an Adventure Education Package, an analysis of the curriculum design process involved in the development of these materials was performed. This analysis was performed in retrospection via the Case Study method. It was based on Walker's Naturalistic Model of curriculum design with specific relevance to the deliberations made within the process. The impact of the Perceived Curriculum Decision Making Space as proposed by Smith was elicited.

Specifications of the project:

(a) To examine the decisions made during the curriculum design process.
(b) To discover the implication of these decisions and elicit the impact that they will have on the finished product, and
(c) To examine the concept of perceived curriculum decision making space within the context of this curriculum design.

Research questions guiding the study:

(a) What is the nature of the curriculum design process Is it a clear cycle from objectives to learning strategies, or is it more erratic with interaction, accommodation and compromise occurring?
(b) Do the decisions made in the process affect subsequent decisions and the end product?
(c) Can the individual deliberate? Or is deliberation ( decision making ) a process which must occur between more than one person?
(d) What effect does the perceived curriculum decision-making space have on curriculum design? Does a large perceived space give the designer more freedom and ownership of the curriculum? Does a small perceived space limit the designer?
(e) What is the effect of formative evaluation in curriculum design?

The study demonstrated these factors pertinent to the curriculum design process:
(a) deliberation is a feature of the entire design process,
(b) it is possible for the individual to deliberate,
(c) the nature of the deliberative process is such that it draws in others to it,
(d) the perceived decision-making space is fluid and alters throughout the process,
(e) not all limitations to the perceived design process are negative,
(f) the deliberative process lends itself to curriculum design at tertiary level,
(g) retrospective analysis of curriculum design is beneficial.
(h) draft materials are a vital component of retrospective analysis,
(i) curriculum design need not commence with objectives, as these can be formulated late in the design process,
(j) the compilation of a thorough data base in the first phase of the design process assists the decisions to be made later
(k) the value system of the designer has a sufficient impact upon the curriculum,
(l) time is a very real constraint that can impact upon the design,
(m) institutional requirements can be constraint that impact upon the design.
(n) constraints can provide motivation to be creative as well as allow a shaping of the curriculum to occur,
(o) the perceptions of constraints can weaken and become less significant as the design process advances, and
(p) curriculum design is a truly creative endeavour.

Richlands health network: A study of shared leadership

Chris Elliott
Koorana Primary School
Time 5.00-5.30 Room 4

The reported study was of the planning of a health network in western Canada following the announcement by the Minister of Health that health administration in the province would be regionalised. From the data emerged 13 themes which were grouped into Conventional-thinking Themes, Value Themes, Process Themes, and Leadership Themes.

The Conventional thinking Themes of boundaries and territorialism, administrator/physician conflict, the emphasis on hierarchies, and business thinking, tended to act against the creation of the health network, and were termed centrifugal forces. The Value Themes, Process Themes, and Leadership Themes, which were comprised of 9 interacting sub-themes, worked to draw the health network together, producing what were termed centripetal forces. The Process Themes were largely facilitated by the Leadership Themes, but they expressed the Value Themes. The study found that a key role for a leader was to promote the sharing of leadership by facilitating the occurrence of these themes in the planning process. This process was based on common values, multi-directional communication between participants, the opportunity for all participants to take part in the modification of a proposed vision for the health network, the acceptance of differing understandings about organisations and expressions of leadership that differed from individual to individual, and the removal of ego-involvement in the leadership process were all found to be important factors in the success of the planning process.

Cinderella observed: Two case studies

Tony Fowler
Curtin
Time 3.30-4.00 Room 1

Thee presentation will deal with the original impetus for the study, a basic outline of the informal Adult Education sector (the Fourth Sector) within which the study is being made, and reasons for choosing an ethnographic perspective. A brief account will be given of the strategies selected for the field research, the participant observation and interviewer techniques sued and the problems, real or imagined, encountered to date.

The effects of teaching learning strategies in context on first year uni students' learning intentions, learning strategies and performance

Richard Fuller, D. Chalmers & D. Kirkpatrick
ECU
Time 3.30-4.00 Room 3

This paper reports the results of a programme in which three classes of first year university students were taught learning strategies in the context of a regular coursework unit over one semester. Other students were taught the same strategies in sessions attended voluntarily in their own time, while control students were taught the coursework unit in the conventional way and received no instruction in learning strategies. The effects of the intervention on the students' learning intentions, learning strategies and performance are presented.

The value of qualitative research in a study of cross-cultural research supervision

John Hall
Curtin
Time 4.00-4.30 Room 4

Educational researchers committed to some form of qualitative inquiry would identify with the predicament I faced earlier this year. As one of a team of people commissioned to investigate cross-cultural research supervision at Curtin University, 1 was under some pressure to justify my request for including a qualitative component. After all the qualitative work would be more time consuming, and costly, and what difference would it make anyway?! In my presentation 1 aim to re-present the argument 1 put then, hopefully with more persuasion.

Teacher appraisal of the teacher, by the teacher, for the teacher. A case for classroom based action research

Dennis Ireland
MLC, Curtin
Time 4.30-5.00 Room 4

Continuing developments at the national and state levels on appraisal and certification processes for the teaching profession have caused concern for many classroom teachers particularly with regard to expected implementation procedures. Debate is not only occurring within the profession but also in the popular press as federal and state governments along with various professional and union organisations, claiming to represent teachers, give voice to their views on these issues.

This paper briefly reviews these developments and outlines how action research can play a significant role in an appraisal system for teachers in schools as they under-go work place reform. Such appraisal systems are designed to empower teachers and allow them to take charge of their personal career development and professional growth.

This appraisal system is currently being developed in a local school and is one which is designed to be used by the teacher, on the teacher, for the teacher. This system incorporates procedures for reflective, formative and summative appraisal. Most teachers and schools will be familiar with the ideas suggested by summative appraisal (alias teacher assessment or evaluation ) but such a process often lacks the full potential realised by a more complete appraisal system such as that proposed in this paper. Reflective and formative appraisal offer a great deal of enrichment to the summative appraisal process.

As a starting point reflective appraisal typically involves checking through a list of duties such as a job description and often highlights a teacher's advanced skills and can also illustrate areas of practice or development which could be further enhanced. The next stage in servicing the needs which the teacher has perceived is for them to engage in a formative appraisal of the situation calling on their own expertise in such processes or on the expertise of others already skilled in formative appraisal practices. This can often involve the teacher in doing some action research to analyse that which is of interest to them and to evaluate their success in obtaining answers to the questions they posed. These two processes of reflection and research can then contribute to the teacher's personal professional profile and support any summative appraisals they may undertake.

This paper highlights the valuable role that action research can play in enhancing teachers formative appraisal skills and emphasises how these skills can benefit the professional development of the teacher and the teaching profession as a whole.

Qualitative research in the home setting: Issues and method

Ranbir Malik
ECU
Time 2.30-3.00 Room

Qualitative methodology allows one to observe people and events as they are and happen in their natural setting. In this study children from four Chinese-Australian and four Anglo-Australian families, residing in the Perth metropolitan area, are being studied for two years in their home and school settings. In order to understand the influence of home and school environments on the educational aspirations of these children, data have been collected and analysed by employing the key ethnographic techniques: participant observation, conversational interviewing and document analysis. This presentation relates to the ways the data gathering techniques have been utilised in the home setting.

Implementing outcome statements: Conceptual and practical issues

Colin Marsh
ECU
Time 2.30-3.00 Room 4

Outcomes-based education is attracting growing interest in a number of countries. It can be considered as both a comprehensive reform strategy and a curriculum model. Yet, the empirical research to support it as a reform strategy is very sparse (Wolf et al, 1992, Glatthom 1993, McKernan 1993). Further, the use of outcomes-based education as a curriculum model needs to be carefully analysed in terms of the bases for designing curricula, organisational impacts on schools and the effects on teachers in their role as curriculum makers. An outcomes-based approach is currently being developed for government schools for K-10 students. For example, student outcome statements with indicators have been developed and trialled in most subjects, K-10, and these will form the basis for school development planning and accountability. To date, the results are very promising but the underlying assumptions and potential impacts on schooling, both positive and negative, need to be analysed carefully. In this paper major conceptual issues and practical implementation aspects are analysed and discussed.

Field testing a curriculum dissemination model

Clare McBeath
Curtin
Time 1 1.30-2.00 Room 4

A model of dissemination practice was constructed from data from three sources: 1. a list of factors identified through research as important by TAFE lecturers; 2. constraints to successful change identified by a panel of curriculum services staff; 3. the curriculum change literature.

The model was tested with the newly accredited Certificate of Horticultural Skills, to be introduced in TAFE colleges and regional centres this semester and next. Four subjects were piloted at the new Murdoch TAFE campus in the second half of the first semester.

Earlier research had identified that the essential ingredients for successful curriculum change included lecturers' need for information, for staff development, the development of teaching materials, and for ongoing input and feedback into further course improvement. The constraints can be summarised as lack of delineated funds and time, pressure from industry and role uncertainty within the ongoing process of TAFE restructuring. Surprisingly, lecturer resistance was not identified as important in comparison with these more pressing constraints. Data from the curriculum change literature is conflicting and still developmental. Research from the USA tends to see dissemination as an educational leadership, or top-down responsibility, while British researchers have tended to approach it from a teacher ownership, or bottom-up collaborative process. My model sought to incorporate a balance of the two approaches.

My role was that of "coach" (Stenhouse, 1976) or "change agent (Havelock, 1969), attending to informing and encouraging lecturers so that they would come to see themselves first as collaborators, and then as owners of the new course. Staff development meetings were organised, newsletters written and mailed, questionnaires constructed to encourage input, especially from lecturers in rural centres, and the concept of the need for materials production fostered.

Grammar and reading: Another 'Great Debate'

Barbara Milner
ECU
Time 2.00-2.30 Room 1

The aim of the present research study was to determine whether specific instruction in aspects of grammar would result in improved levels of reading performance in children who were early readers. Although a number of previous research studies have examined the links between grammatical understanding and reading performance, few training studies exist. Three classes of Year 1 and Year 2 children, divided into experimental and control groups at each year level, were examined in this study. The experimental groups received an intensive 10 - week training program in aspects of grammatical knowledge appropriate to their age level. The 2 control groups received normal classroom instruction in aspects of general language development. All 4 groups were pre-tested and post-tested in grammatical understanding, word recognition and reading comprehension.

Statistical analyses at post-test revealed that there were no differences between the experimental and control groups in levels of syntactic understanding and reading performance after training. However, when pre-test and post-test scores were compared, it was found that all children, in all groups, had improved significantly in levels of grammatical understanding and reading performance during the 10 week period.

I suggest that the reason for this may be that current W.A. Language curricula which favour a Whole Language approach to literacy learning, may encourage the use of reading strategies which, incidentally, foster grammatical development. Examples of children's work from the training program will be displayed during the presentation.

Perceptions of teacher professionalism: Teachers' and parents' viewpoints

Theresa Nazareth
Bateman Primary School
Time 1.30-2.001 Room 5

This research is concerned with the perceptions of teachers and parents in regard to teacher professionalism. Particularly, it reports the results of a study of 12 teachers and 12 parents who were interviewed to ascertain their views on the various dimensions of teacher professionalism. Qualitative data was collected from teachers and parents from three different school situations. It focussed on teachers' and parents' perceptions of teacher professionalism especially in regard to four research questions: 1) What are teachers' perceptions of teacher professionalism? 2) What are parents' perceptions of teacher professionalism? 3) To what extent are the perceptions of both groups similar? 4) To what extent do the perceptions of both groups match the view of teacher professionalism in the literature?

With increasing devolution and as parents identify themselves more with schools, an understanding of what parents and teachers think of teacher professionalism is imperative for schools seeking the cooperation so necessary for better school management and for enhancing teacher and student performance. Also the shift in emphasis from achieving high scores to a better understanding of the factors that impact on student learning, strengthens the case for major consideration to be given to teacher professionalism in Western Australia Based on the findings of this study, recommendations are made for policy, teacher professional development, management and research.

Using technology to facilitate teacher-student interactions in distance education and open learning

Ron Oliver
ECU
Time 2.00-2.30 Room 2

Traditionally, the two attributes of face-to-face teaching that are absent from distance education are interactivity and independence. Classroom teaching and learning is based on a degree of interactivity between teacher and student. The teacher plays a pivotal role in not only providing instruction, but also in motivating, leading and guiding students. At the same time, schools provide an organised and rigid framework for the learning program. While schools can therefore be characterised by high levels of interaction and low levels of learner independence, in differing forms of distance education, interactivity and independence tend to be traded off each against the other. There are many forms of interactive technologies that are commonly used in distance education and open learning in order to enhance the quality of teacher-student interactions. Examples include audiographics, audio conferencing, teleconferencing, videoconferencing, computer-mediated communications, electronic mail and live interactive television. In many of the applications of these technologies, instructors mimic face-to-face teaching strategies and procedures. There are few guidelines to help the distance educator working with new technologies and frequently the quality of the instructional activities that result are limited in their effectiveness in bringing students to achieve the intended learning outcomes. In a number of research projects in which 1 have been involved that have investigated the use of interactive technologies in instruction and learning, there is evidence that the interactions that have cost so much in terms of equipment, resources and money, have been severely under-utilised and in several instances, have been counterproductive as aids to learning. This paper will discuss the issues concerning the nature of teacher-student interactions using interactive technologies and will describe strategies and research directions being undertaken at Edith Cowan University to further investigate this problem.

Body marking and tattooing amongst Western Australian high school adolescents

Elizabeth Parry
Curtin University
Time 2.00-2.30 Room 3

This study at U.W.A. examined tattooing and body marking in high school students in government schools. Body marking and tattooing is a process by which Insoluble colour pigment is impregnated into the layer of tissue that lies below the surface of the skin. This practice is often termed adorning the skin with indelible tattoos or patterned scarring. Data was obtained by questionnaire and in-depth follow-up interview. The sample consisted of 460 male and female high school students - 229 females and 231 males. Subjects were selected randomly from four schools and selected purposely from one other. Findings included: 13.58% had tattoos and the mean age at which subjects had acquired their first tattoo was 12.3 years; approximately 70%, acquired their tattoos through self administration, while over 22% obtained them from friends or family members., The two main reasons cited for obtaining tattoos were 'boredom' or 'because 1 feel like it'; Crude instruments such as needles, razors, combs and other sharp objects were most commonly used to administer tattoos in highly visible anatomical locations ( eg. arm and hand), Health awareness of subjects was poor in that only 50% thought it possible to catch AIDS and only 25% thought it possible to catch Hepatitis; Subjects realised the difficulty in removing tattoos, yet many had attempted removal using items such as glass, razors and in one case, a potato peeler. Although subjects with tattoos were often in 'time-out' or suspended from school, they had a positive attitude to school; 40% of adolescents with tattoos have broken the law and been charged by the Police Department. The research raised some important issues. For example, with reference to the percentage of school students with tattoos, this is equivalent to approximately 14% of the school's population.

Studies of adolescent behaviour in WA government high schools

Elizabeth Parry
Curtin University
Time 1 4.00-4.30 Room 3

To determine and examine what adolescents think about aggression, depression, body marking and self mutilation, three studies were conducted in selected Western Australian government high schools in Perth during 1992 and 1993. The aims of these studies were to determine how adolescents 'viewed themselves' and other of the same age in terms of behaviour, conduct and temperament. More than 800 students were involved in the research. Questionnaires were presented to the students in their regular English or Health Education classes. The findings were: adolescent females connected the cause of aggression with emotional disturbances whereas males connected it with physical reactions; twice as many females to males enjoyed being an adolescent in 1992; twice as many males to females describe themselves as aggressive; punishment is ineffective as a control technique; parents who attempt to influence their children's behaviour by frequent punishment appear to foster aggression in their offspring; adolescent boys exhibiting relatively strong anti-social aggression are likely to have had parents who typically resorted to physical punishment in trying to control them; even if the adolescents aggression does not get them into legal difficulties, punitively disciplined boys may still be extremely aggressive in their classrooms, work places and perhaps in their homes. The findings of the study in Adolescent depression were: diagnosis of adolescent depression is an evaluation process; because of the low numbers of adolescents who self-refer for depression there can be some difficulty in accurate identification; there is a tendency by some parents to deny or reject information that their child may be suffering from an effective disorder; the school provides an optimal setting for the early identification of depressed adolescent students; depression is a real malady suffered by some students; there is definite connection between the transition of Primary to Secondary School and student depression; depression and feeling bad' needs to be addressed in classes so that students understand that there may be others who feel as they do. depression symptoms in adolescents were uniquely predicted by social relationships family and paternal support interacted with peer support in the prediction of depression.

The youth challenge project: Models, measurement and mentors

Lis Pike and A. Thompson & L. Thomson
ECU
Time 1.00-1.30 Room 5

This paper describes an extensive research project which is currently being undertaken in a selection of WA metropolitan and rural primary and secondary schools. The project has three major aims:

  1. To further develop a conceptual model of self-esteem development in children;
  2. To evaluate the efficacy of different means of assessing self-esteem;
  3. To examine the role of different forms of mentoring that are being applied in a series of programs that are being implemented as part of the project with children identified as 'at risk' due to low self-esteem. An outline of the project's evolution, findings and progress to date will be given.

Framing (Goffman 1974): A useful construct for examining, interpreting, and describing clinical teaching in nursing

Judith Pugh
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital
Time 3.30-4.00 Room 2

This paper forms part of a larger case study. The purpose of the case study was to depict the practices of the clinical teacher in nursing education to provide insight into the nature of clinical teaching. The day-to-day experiences of a single clinical teacher, Jo, a faculty member of a tertiary institution, are portrayed in situ. Her acts, modes of behaviour, language, and patterns of social interaction with students, patients and staff within the clinical practicum are described.

Data were collected through participant observation of and informal interviews with Jo, entailing over 70 hours of fieldwork. Formal semi-structured interviews with two other clinical teachers are incorporated into the account. Observations and interviews were analysed by the constant comparative method of data analysis. My observations focused on Jo's framing, or her identification with each of the two cultural frames of nursing and clinical teaching, and the state of tension in her framing (Goffman, 1974). I observed for those activities or events in which Jo's framing was that of the nurse or of the teacher, and the switching between frames. 1 became interested in identifying or depicting the two frames in which Jo operated.

The enactment by Jo of the dual roles of nurse and teacher, rather than being problematic as the literature suggests, was central to he clinical teaching. Focusing on Jo's switching between the two frames of nursing and teaching did not provide a complete account of clinical teaching in nursing but did, perhaps, describe a key aspect.

Dyslexia or learning difficulties: A thorn by any other name

Gordon Shaw
Curtin
Time 5.00-5.30 Room 1

Dyslexia/Learning Difficulties: Are they the same thing? Every so many years car companies bring out a new model basically the same as the previous mode. Just given a new name and a different colour mage to keep the customer happy and thinking they are getting something new. Is this what is happening to Dyslexia: A new name and a change of colour but basically the same thing? Thus Dyslexia dressed up in its new livery of learning difficulties with its acronym LD? But has anything changed for the dyslexic/LD child? I am a dyslexic person and my presentation will concentrate on what I hope to achieve in my PhD research on Dyslexia/LD.

A case study of a developing national research agenda: Teachers, Institutions and financial resources for secondary school Innovations

Andrew Taggart and Andrew Medland
ECU
Time 2.00-2.300 Room 5

This research is concerned with the perceptions of teachers and parents in regard to teacher professionalism. Particularly, it reports the results of a study of 12 teachers and 12 parents who were interviewed to ascertain their views on the various dimensions of teacher professionalism. Qualitative data was collected from teachers and parents from three different school situations. It focussed on teachers' and parents' perceptions of teacher professionalism especially in regard to four research questions: 1) What are teachers' perceptions of teacher professionalism? ) What are parents' perceptions of teacher professionalism? ) To what extent are the perceptions of both groups similar? ) To what extent do the perceptions of both groups match the view of teacher professionalism in the literature?

With increasing devolution and as parents identify themselves more with schools, an understanding of what parents and teachers think of teacher professionalism is imperative for schools seeking the cooperation so necessary for better school management and for enhancing teacher and student performance. Also the shift in emphasis from achieving high scores to a better understanding of the factors that impact on student learning, strengthens the case for major consideration to be given to teacher professionalism in Western Australia. Based on the findings of this study, recommendations are made for policy, teacher professional development, management and research.

Paradigm paradoxes and educational research: Applying logical levels to the research paradigms to reduce confusion

Stephen Thorpe and John Gardiner
ECU
Time 5.00-5.30 Room 2

This paper presents a theoretical construction of the various paradigms (positivist, post-positivist, critical theory and constructivist), key aspects of these paradigms (ontology, epistemology, methodology, and procedural canons) and what are considered to be the appropriate logical levels. The authors provide this structure with a view to reducing the confusion that may occur when terminology is used without reference to logical levels. The authors hold that this confusion is due to paradoxes that involve mixing of logical levels. Examples from the literature and the authors' own research will be used to illustrate the logical structure of the analysis.

New directions in research on gender and assessment in mathematics

Joanne Tims
SMEC, Curtin
Time 1 1.00-1.301 Room

This paper describes part of an ongoing research project concerned with gender fair assessment in upper secondary mathematics in Western Australia. It focuses on aspects of the project concerned with the relationship between assessment in mathematics education and the differential performance of males and females. This relationship continues to be a much debated but under- researched area (P. Murphy, 1994). The Theoretical Framework The model reported here refers particularly to aspects of the assessment items which impinge on their gender-fairness. The model is in two parts - one part to describe the context of the item and the other part to describe the format of the item. Data Sources The evidence of differential performance of boys and girls due to differing item contexts will be sought by analysing data from the large data base of examination performance data held by the Secondary Education Authority (SEA) of Western Australia (WA) on Tertiary Entrance Examination (TEE) subjects. The analysis will use a partial credit item response theory model to determine whether any it~ in the TEE are functioning differently for males and females. If any items are functioning differently, the differing contexts will be categorised using the Parker and Rennie (1993) model. The students' preferences for assessment type is being sought through a large number (30) of interviews with Year 12 students, using an interview schedule adapted from Baxter Magolda (1992). These preferences will be linked to the students "way of knowing" through a model developed by Baxter Magolda (1992) and extended by this author. Teachers' observations about gender-related preference for assessment type will also be obtained through informal interviews and discussions with the teachers of the students being interviewed. Concluding Comments This research project is pursuing a new direction in research on gender and mathematics. It draws from various feminist perspectives, and has the potential to inform both research and practice concerned with the relationship between gender and mathematics.

The chicken and the egg: The role of theory in qualitative research

John Wallace and Helen Wildy
SMEC Curtin
Time 1 4.30-5.001 Room 2

As the educational world shifts from the quantitative to the qualitative paradigm, the role of theory has become less certain. This paper explores several issues and tensions involved in the use and generation of theory in qualitative research, with reference to our own research. We focus particularly on grounded methods which demand a strange dialectic relationship between theory and data We begin with an examination of the various kinds of theory and how they operate at the different levels of the research process. We explore the sources and status of theory and raise some questions about whose theory counts. Several tensions seem to arise in the use of theory; between general theories and the particulars of the situation, between theory as product and theory as framework, between the inclusivity and exclusivity of theory, and between the discovery of theory and the creation of theory. The paper concludes with a discussion of objectivity vs subjectivity, a fundamental dilemma in the conduct of qualitative research.

Investigating collaborative activity: children using computers in a primary classroom

Martyn Wild
ECU
Time 1.00-1.30 Room 1

This paper will describe a research project currently underway at Edith Cowan University to investigate the nature of children's interactions centred on and around the use of new technologies for learning. The paper will address issues that have arisen as a result of this research, and particularly that part of it that is concerned with mapping children's collaborative behaviours when using computers for learning. It will also consider possible determinants of successful collaborations, such as learner control, group size and task structure. The paper will further highlight the methodologies employed to undertake the research and especially their shortcomings.

Implementing curriculum reform: The link teacher model of inservice

Helen Wildy and John Wallace & Lesley Parker
SMEC, Curtin
Time 4.00-4.30 Room 5

This paper reports on the effectiveness of the Link Teacher model, a variant of the train-the-trainer model, used to prepare teacher for the implementation of a new syllabus for post compulsory physics in Western Australia. The model consisted of three stages: in the initial stage, a small select group of teachers, Link teachers, were introduced to the new syllabus; at the second stage, these I-Ink teachers conducted district workshops with groups of physics teachers; and in the third stage, teachers implemented the syllabus in their classrooms. At each stage, interviews and surveys were conducted to assess the effectiveness of the model and to make suggestions that guided planning for the next stage. While a small proportion of participating teachers criticised the model, most found it enhanced their sense of ownership of the curriculum change. A number of problems emerged during the 18 months of the study: lack of support from the central authority; the absence of recognition for the time and work required, particularly for link teachers; few opportunities for teachers to experiment with the new materials and strategies; and unclear criteria for selecting Link teachers and ambiguity in their role. However, the two way linkage, from Link teacher to the group of teachers as well as from I-ink teacher to the central authority, has great potential for maintaining the momentum of change and responding to practical and genuine concerns of teachers.

Reflective teaching: Do we always get it right

John Woods
ECU
Time 1.30-2.00 Room 1

For most teachers, improvements to their teaching performance are based on reflection of past experiences, experiments and use of strategies. This involves looking back at what has happened and trying to recall and evaluate critical teaching incidents (retrospective reflection). Decisions are then made as to those modifications deemed necessary to enhance the efficacy of the teaching function. In engaging in retrospective reflection, however, how can we be sure that our recollection and interpretation of past events is accurate'? What if our version of what has happened, or our interpretation of the significance of our actions, differs from that of others? What if our students are not interpreting classroom events in the same way that we are? By investigating a series of case studies involving teacher and student perceptions of significant classroom events, it is apparent that sometimes teachers misinterpret classroom dynamics quite drastically. When future teaching decisions are based upon misperceptions (false consciousness) the consequences of implementing decisions based upon such flaws may be quite catastrophic!

This session will focus upon problems of false consciousness resulting from retrospective reflection. Data obtained from the application of the Classroom Interaction Patterns Questionnaire (CIPQ), an instrument designed to provide feedback on students' perceptions of teaching style and preferred learning style, will be used. The data will show that even with the best of intentions, reliance upon unstructured, subjective interpretation of teaching strategies can sometimes cause a teacher to make inappropriate decisions. While reflection on teaching is an essential activity for the profession, retrospective reflection resulting in false consciousness should be avoided at all costs.

36 presentations


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